Beat The Bugs

EDITOR\’S NOTE: a few years ago we published an indepth piece on mosquito and fly control, written by Heather Cook, for the magazine. Given the serious insect and pest situation in many areas this summer, we\’re republishing parts of it here. Hope it helps keep the bugs away! 


Summer is here and so are our least friendly visitors: flying, blood sucking, annoying insects. Whether mosquitoes, barn flies or gnats, they can be relentless and annoying. Here are some new and traditional techniques to keeping the insects in your summer to a minimum.

Taiwanese Mosquito Trap

Beat the bugs in your horse barn with a solution created by a class in Taiwan for a school project. This mosquito trap has been built around the world thanks to the internet.

Materials Needed:

  • • 2 litre bottle
  • • 50 gram sugar
  • • 1 gram yeast
  • • Thermometer
  • • Measuring cup
  • • Knife
  • • Black paper


Step 1. Cut the top of the bottle as shown. Put the top part aside.

Step 2. Put 200ml hot water in the bottle, stir with 50gram brown sugar. Put the sugar water in cold water to cool it down to 40C.

Step 3. After cooling down, put the sugar water in the bottle then add the yeast. When yeast ferments, it creates carbon dioxide.

Step 4. Put the top upside down to fit into the bottle and tape in place.

Step 5. Put black paper around the bottle since mosquitoes like dark places and carbon dioxide.



TIP: Put the trap in some dark and humid place. The sugar water and yeast solution should be replaced every two weeks.

Home Remedies: Do They Work?

Bounce Dryer Sheets – According to Proctor and Gamble, there have been no tests to prove the validity of this claim. However, according to riders like Lillian Maughan from Stony Plain, Alberta, it most certainly does. “Last year on a pack trip, the horseflies were horrible. I rubbed my gelding down with a Bounce sheet someone else had brought. Flies stayed about a foot away from him. We also tied them to our halters and rubbed them on their faces, they worked great. I’ll be packing them with me from now on, they take up less room than a spray bottle in a pack box.”

Garlic – there have been no clinical trials to prove that garlic repels insects, but many in the homeopathic industry insist that it does. The theory states that when ingested orally, it releases sulfur through your horse’s skin, creating an odor insects to not like, causing them to avoid your horse.

Citronella – this is a natural insecticide made from dried grasses. It does not kill, but repels insects. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) concluded that repellents containing up to 10 per cent citronella oil applied to the skin were effective at reducing the frequency of mosquito bites for an average of about 20 minutes.

Avon Skin-So-Soft – a popular alternative that is rumored to keep flies at bay. This product was also tested in NEJM study and found that the amount of citronella in the moisturizer is only 0.05 per cent and it afforded only three minutes of mosquito protection, on average.

Applying Fly Spray Properly


1. Clean horse thoroughly to remove dirt and dust which may bind to the spray and render it ineffective.

2. Tack-up as you normally would.

3. Spray your horse along all exposed body areas.

4. For face, ears and inside the flank/sheath area, spray on a cloth and rub onto horse.

Avoid spraying your horse prior to placing the saddle on his back. The spray may irritate your horse’s skin if it is sprayed under the saddle or cinch area prior to exercise. For horses not used to being sprayed, do not tie while applying the spray.


1. Remove tack and allow body to dry. Applying to a damp, warm horse may hasten evaporation of spray.

2. Brush horse thoroughly again.

3. Apply spray to all areas of your horse, using a cloth on face, ears and inside of flank/sheath.

* Do not apply fly spray to your horse’s tail in the hopes of creating a ‘super bug swishing and repelling system’. This will cause the tail to become dry and irritated as it does not have the same protective oils as your horse’s coat does.

* Always, always follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label. The directions are there to ensure safe and effective use of the product.


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